Squirrels have Squirrels

Squirrels have squirrels
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This was originally posted in my blog on July 1, 2010.

Gerry, my mentor during my first year as an administrator, would often say, “Squirrels have squirrels” shortly after certain parents left the school. Most of know this phrase better as, “The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.”

I don't know why Gerry used squirrels instead of apples, but I like it. I use it now on occasion to explain a student&#03

9;s behavior. Before teaching, I would not have understood the sentiment.

I can remember the first squirrels that I recognized. In my first year teaching, I had a student I will call Bill. Bill was sloppy, disorganized, disheveled, and not really interested in school work. My partner teacher and I called a meeting with Bill's parents. We'd met Mom already and knew her to be nothing like her son. We were perplexed. Until Dad walked in.

Dad was a larger version of Bill. They were like twins (except for the 30 year age gap). Now I got it.

Now, after 14 years in education, I understand squirrels. I have learned to work with squirrels. I have learned to value meeting them and listening to them.

Of course, my own mini-squirrels are now running around. I wonder how long it will be until some teacher meets me and thinks, “Oh, now I get it. Squirrels have squirrels.”

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2 Comments

  1. Lyn Hilt said:

    I agree it’s often made clearer for us, upon meeting students’ parents, where the children inherit some of their unique characteristics. 🙂 However, I’ve also seen teachers use this phenomenon as an excuse for not attempting varied strategies or reaching out to make connections with families who may be in need of more individualized attention. Another concern is when siblings come through the school. Really, we’re going to assume the younger sibling has the same attributes as his older brother?? Right off the bat? I especially appreciate this point in your post: “I have learned to work with squirrels. I have learned to value meeting them and listening to them.” We have to work with parents, no matter how squirrely they may be. 🙂 Our job educating students isn’t complete without making those connections.

    October 12, 2010
  2. Lyn,

    You are right that the squirrels way of thinking is used by some teachers as an excuse for not doing right by a student. In my experience, those teachers had long lists of excuses for not doing the real hard work of meeting students’ needs.

    Thanks for commenting.

    October 13, 2010

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